The UFC returns to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 282 as they will crown a brand new undisputed light heavyweight champion when Jan Blachowicz takes on Magomed Ankalaev in the main event.
Originally a three-round co-main, former champion Jiri Prochazka was forced to withdraw from his rematch with Glover Teixeira and vacate his title after suffering a shoulder injury in training, which saw this fight bumped up to a title fight.
We’ll also see the UK’s own compete as Paddy Pimblett and Darren Till compete on the main card, while there is some deep prelim fights on the card too.
Last time out at UFC Orlando we had a shocking night, going 5/14 with just one perfect pick to move to 789/1227 (64.3%) with 325 perfect picks (41.19%). You can see our full pick history here.
We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims.
Cameron Saaiman (6-0) vs Steven Koslow (6-0) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A banger at bantamweight opens up the card between two UFC debutants. Both guys come into this with undefeated records, with Saaiman earning a UFC contract on the Contender Series most recently, while Koslow has won all six of his professional fights via first-round submission.
Saaiman is a talented striker with great power, technique and a really deep gas tank too. His takedown defence isn’t the best though, and that’s a big problem against someone like Koslow who is an absolute wizard on the ground in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu game.
With that said, Saaiman is a decent grappler on the mat and a good wrestler too. If he can get out of the first-round without being dragged down and dominated, then he has a great chance of landing his power strikes on the feet and earn a big knockout win as the fight progresses. It’s a tough fight to pick early on in the card but Saaiman is the more well-rounded guy so I’m going with him to get the win.
PICK – Cameron Saaiman via Knockout, Round 2
Vinicius Salvador (14-4) vs Daniel Da Silva (11-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Flyweight fun up next. Salvador makes his UFC debut on a four-fight win streak, with a knockout win on the Contender Series back in August securing his contract with the company. Da Silva on the other hand has lost all three of his UFC bouts, getting stopped by Jeff Molina, Francisco Figueiredo and Victor Altamirano.
Salvador is a powerhouse of a striker in the flyweight division, with excellent hooks and 13 of his 14 career wins coming via knockout. Da Silva is a really well rounded fighter, but he’s struggled to bring it all together in the UFC and has been losing fights he is supposed to win. This is another fight that he is supposed to win realistically.
He’s the better fighter when it comes to skillsets, but with his recent performances it’s hard to expect him to do what he’s supposed to do. But it’s also hard to back Vinicius when I know he isn’t the better fighter. I expect a knockout to occur, and I’m going to go with Da Silva to get it done despite by gut warning me against it.
PICK – Daniel Da Silva via Knockout, Round 2
TJ Brown (16-9) vs Erik Silva (9-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
More fun at featherweight up next. Brown beat Kai Kamaka III and Charles Rosa (UFC Vegas 46) via decision, but was beaten by Nuerdanbieke in June last time out. Silva makes his UFC debut on an eight-fight win streak, winning on the Contender Series last time out after a KO win in just 92 seconds.
Brown is a well-rounded fighter with some really good striking and solid grappling too, but his recent performances have seen him struggle to put it all together. Silva on the other hand is a grapple heavy fighter who likes to wrestle, control and land damage on the ground, while also having slick jiu-jitsu skills too.
Silva’s style is similar to the way that Nuerdanbieke was able to nullify and defeat Brown last time out, but he’s largely untested against the better fighters in the world. Whether he has the quality to execute his style is yet to be seen, but if he can he should be able to claim a career-defining win for himself.
PICK – Erik Silva via Decision
Billy Quarantillo (16-4) vs Alexander Hernandez (13-5) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A banger at featherweight as Hernandez makes his debut in the division. Quarantillo is 2-2 in his last four with wins over Kyle Nelson (UFC Vegas 10) and Gabriel Benitez, while he lost to Gavin Tucker (UFC 256) and most recently Shane Burgos at UFC 268. Hernandez is 4-4 in his last eight, alternating results in each. His last two saw him beat Mike Breeden with ease (UFC Vegas 38) before getting smashed by Renato Moicano at UFC 271.
Quarantillo is a brilliantly entertaining fighter, whose best attribute is his heart and grit to go with his striking and grappling skills. Hernandez alternatively is a strong boxer with really powerful hands and a good gas tank, but this weight cut could have a big effect on how he usually fights.
Early on I expect Hernandez to use his wrestling and boxing to keep Quarantillo at bay, but without getting a finish his cardio could begin to fail him and Billy Q will almost certainly be able to take advantage and push the pace for the full fight. I expect a brilliant fight between them, and a late surge from Quarantillo could be enough to sway the judges in a really tight call on the cards.
PICK – Billy Quarantillo via Decision